Off topic: An old poem on the vagaries of English
Thread poster: jbruton (X)

jbruton (X)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 15, 2005

English is tough stuff!
Dearest creature in creation,
study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
make your head and heart grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear,
so shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
When you correctly say croquet.
rounded, wounded, grieve and sleeve,
scenic, Arabic, pacific,
science, conscience, scientific,
tour, but our, and succour, four,
gas and alas and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
psalm, Maria, but malaria;
youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
neither does devour with clangour;
soul but foul, and gaunt but aunt,
font, front, wont; want, grand and grant;
shows, goes, does; now first say finger,
and then singer, ginger, linger;
real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
neither does fury sound like bury,
dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth,
job, Job, bosom, oath;
though the difference seems little,
we say actual but victual;
refer does not rhyme with "deafer,"
foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer;
dull bull; and George, ate, late;
mint, pint, senate and sedate,
barn but earn, and wear and tear
do not rhyme with "here" and "ere."
Seven is right, but so is even,
hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen;
monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
ask, grasp, wasp; and cork and work;
doctrine, turpentine, marine;
dandelion with battalion;
sally with ally, yea, ye,
eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay;
pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits
writing groats and saying grits!


 

PFB (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:41
English to French
+ ...
Bit of a mouthful for non native speakers... Nov 16, 2005

Good fun!

Does the word "foeffer" actually exist? I can't find it anywhere.

Thanks for enlightening me...


 

Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:41
German to English
+ ...
Spelling Nov 16, 2005

Philippe Boucry wrote:
Good fun!
Does the word "foeffer" actually exist? I can't find it anywhere.
Thanks for enlightening me...


I too had never heard of the word and can't find with that particular spelling. But I did find a word that is spelled slightly differently (see: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=feoffer ). The way it is pronounced would fit in the poem (IMHO); perhaps the author meant the word "feoffer", i.e. one who makes a feoffment (see: http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/feoffment ).

icon_wink.gif


 

Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:41
English to Dutch
+ ...
Rumor had it Nov 16, 2005

(or so I heard during my years studying English at the University of Amsterdam in the late 60s) that the BBC used to use this poem to test its news readers. If you couldn't read it, you couldn't work for the Beeb.

They now 'even' allow their reporters to maintain their regional accents, probably don't use the poem any more.


 

Puicz (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:41
Swedish to English
Wit in poetry Nov 16, 2005

Thanks for the poem JB!
I would welcome any others in a similar vein for the amusement of the Málaga English Speaking Group.
Here's a 'non-poem'I read in The Times some time ago:
Called A Very Descript Man, it is attributed to a J. H. Parker:
I am such a dolent man,
I eptly work each day;
My acts are all becilic,
I’ve just ane things to say.
My nerves are strung, my hair is kempt,
I’m gusting and I’m span:
I look with dain on everyone
And am a pudent man.
I travel cognito and make
A delible impression:
I overcome a slight chalance,
With gruntled self-possesion.
My dignation would be great
If I should digent be:
I trust my vagance will bring
An astrous life for me.

Mike


 

jbruton (X)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
More english fun Nov 16, 2005

What do the following words show:
shoe, grew, through, do, doom, flue, two, who, brute, duty

8 ways to write the sound of "u" in english...

more at http://www.say-it-in-english.com/SpellHome.html


 

PFB (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:41
English to French
+ ...
Thank you Nov 17, 2005

Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

Philippe Boucry wrote:
Good fun!
Does the word "foeffer" actually exist? I can't find it anywhere.
Thanks for enlightening me...


I too had never heard of the word and can't find with that particular spelling. But I did find a word that is spelled slightly differently (see: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=feoffer ). The way it is pronounced would fit in the poem (IMHO); perhaps the author meant the word "feoffer", i.e. one who makes a feoffment (see: http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/feoffment ).

icon_wink.gif


Thanks Derek - or is it Derek Gill? Sorry, I don't know...


 

John Montgomery Rouse
Sweden
Local time: 15:41
Swedish to English
It IS feoffer - the other is a typo... May 13, 2009

George Bernard Shaw truly loved language. His exposition and wit shine here.

He was also a passionate advocate of spelling reform.

This misspelling of Feoffer as Foeffer illustrates all too well the problem of the Internet. It has been copied and promulgated as correct as others have not gone to the source document but have simply cut and pasted.

The correct word is feoffer.

Feoffer comes from the pre-Chaucerian feffement and can be thought of as a feudal-offer and is the origin of fealty and fee. Love that it rhymes with zephyr and heifer, as do the original two syllables in feffe-ment. Feoffer when pronounced correctly sounds as though it should be a Steve Martin character...icon_smile.gif

Regarding internet and typos: caveat lector!


 


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An old poem on the vagaries of English

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